Sometimes we get great inspiration from the most random places, and this time that place was Twitter.
I was giving props to the Suns deep bench folks — the ones who don’t even get into many games — and a couple of twitter friends replied with some inspired reactions.
Could the Suns 11+ players on this depth chart win a game against some of the TWOL (Twenty Wins or Less) tanking teams of our horrifyingly recent past?
Let’s take a deep(ish) dive.
I made this handy dandy chart to compare the 11+ guys’ career starting numbers to the most frequent starters each year at each position for the three uber-tanking years prior to Monty Williams taking over.
I know Sean’s comment was “some of the starting lineups” of recent years which I completely agree with.
But I got excited about a similar question:
Could this deep bench win a matchup against the BEST of the tanking teams?
Obviously, this year’s deep bench as a unit doesn’t have a talent like Devin Booker leading the scoring and playmaking charge. And they certainly don’t have a Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe or T.J. Warren.
What this deep bench DOES have is Monty Williams as a coach, and his coaching staff’s offensive and defensive schemes. Assistant coaches don’t get much credit since they never talk to media, but Chris Paul regularly credits the coaching staff for having the team prepared for each opponent every single night. I can see them maximizing each player in this group.
I took liberties by installing Jalen Smith as a starter, and by giving him Marquese Chriss’ rookie starting stats. I think it’s reasonable to assume that Smith and Chriss are not that far off as rookies in terms of NBA readiness, so 9 and 4 in 22 minutes a night seems about right.
After watching Kaminsky almost tally a triple-double in his rare big-minute opportunity this year, I can easily envision Frank the Tank becoming the team’s point-center — a homeless man’s Nikola Jokic — and posting 5 assists per game in this lineup and scheme. And I can see Langston Galloway launching 10 threes a night to fill in the scoring needs. E’Twaun Moore is steady, predictable and a career 40% three point shooter when given regular playing time.
The wild card obviously is Abdel Nader. He’s shown flashes of being a Book-lite in limited minutes. In a consistent starting role, could he produce 14+ points a night rather than 10?
Overall, this deep bench would be a bad starting lineup. That’s why they are the deep bench, after all.
But I’d venture to say that if some disaster happened and the top 10 players on the Suns roster were suddenly unavailable one night, and one of these old Suns tanker lineups came to town... maybe just maybe this deep bench lineup could steal a win.